Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Europe is Kaput event at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Srecko Horvat chaired a discussion with Yanis Varoufakis, Slavoj Žižek and (surprise guest, via video-link of course) Julian Assange.
Search on twitter for #europeiskaput for pictures and tweets from the event (despite the lack of mobile/Wi-Fi signal, we managed).
The one point from the discussion I would like to draw out specifically is the position of the left vis-a-vis the Brexit referendum. Yanis, being (surprisingly) pro-European would like to see Britain as part of the EU. Yanis believes that Europe can and has to reform and that Britain should be within and not without this process. I totally agree with him, but I still have a problem. My problem is that Yanis’ presentation is entirely prospective, about how the EU could become once again an institution that serves its people, more democratic, transparent, responsive. As to what Europe represents now, there is little positive to say. We will have to fight the Referendum campaign before the EU has had the chance to reform (on Yanis, or Cameron’s terms). We are still looking for a positive message as to what the EU is about now that we can put forward to the public. There is little of that in sight still.
Slavoj is not pro-European Union so he would not help us with the above problem. He likened pro-Europeans (in the sense of the EU in its current capitalist incarnation) with Communist apologists who were arguing that the USSR was fine overall, just had a democratic deficit. In his view the EU is not fine overall, it has problems wider than the democratic deficit. I am guessing he would see Brexit more positively than Yani.
Srecko who I talked to over a cigarette break (his, not mine) seems in favour of Britain in the EU, but also seems to think that Corbyn has better chances than I calculate. He did not think that the left will vote for Brexit. I hope he is right.
Finally, I have to note that Yanis, Srecko and a number of people went to eat dinner at the cafe across the hall (nothing fancy). Yanis was very nice when we went to talk to him despite a little provocation on my part (I accused him of calling me “internal-Troika” once). I wish most well known professors were as approachable.
I am hoping Yanis, and his cross-European movement (in development) will help us convince the left here to support Britain in the EU.